To date, Baidu's Apollo Go has been offering fully driverless ride-hailing services in Beijing, Wuhan and Chongqing. | Baidu.US | Baidu.HK
(Image credit: Baidu)
Baidu's self-driving ride-hailing service platform Apollo Go has won a permit to offer fully driverless rides in Beijing, allowing it to expand the service to three Chinese megacities.
The search engine giant announced the development today, saying it is the first provider of fully driverless robotaxi services in the capital city of any country worldwide. Apollo Go has previously been approved to offer the service in Wuhan and Chongqing.
Baidu Apollo will deploy a total of 10 fully driverless vehicles in Beijing's Yizhuang Economic Development Zone, according to a press release from the company.
Apollo Go is currently providing an average of more than 20 rides per vehicle per day within the area, exceeding the average number of rides taken by traditional online ride-hailing services, Baidu said.
Yizhuang is one of the active hubs for autonomous driving in China. Beijing plans to expand its high-level automated demonstration area in the Yizhuang Economic Development Zone from the existing 60 square kilometers to an eventual 500 square kilometers.
Baidu has been developing autonomous driving technology since 2013 and has accumulated more than 50 million kilometers of testing in Level 4 autonomous driving.
As of the end of January, Apollo Go offered more than 2 million cumulative rides to the public, Baidu said.
In the fourth quarter of 2022, Apollo Go provided 561,000 rides to the public, up 162 percent year-on-year, according to Baidu's fourth-quarter earnings report.
On November 29 last year, Baidu announced that it plans to scale up Apollo's operations in 2023 with fully unmanned self-driving operations in more regions.
Baidu will build the world's largest fully driverless taxi service area in 2023, maintaining its growth momentum as the world's largest robot cab provider, the company said at the time.
Baidu previously announced plans to expand its self-driving mobility service to 65 cities by 2025 and 100 cities by 2030.
Notably, after Baidu announced its latest development, Pony.ai also announced that the company had been granted the same permit to carry out fully unmanned robotaxi services within 60 square kilometers of the Yizhuang Economic Development Zone.
Baidu plans to put 200 additional driverless vehicles into operation in 2023